Feeds

ISP bosses told to get real on broadband speeds

Ofcom Consumer Panel wades in

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Ofcom's independent consumer quango has called on ISP bosses to ensure people feel less cheated by the broadband packages they advertise.

Dissent has been mounting over "up to" advertising of broadband speeds. For most consumers, an "up to 8Mbit/s" line will crawl to about half that speed because of contention, poor quality wiring and distance from the telephone exchange.

In her letter to the chief execs of the six most popular ISPs, Ofcom Consumer Panel chairman Colette Bowe wrote: "We are of course aware of the technical reasons for the 'up to' terminology that you use.

"I would however like to have your views about how these technical issues might be better addressed in terms of giving clearer information to potential customers."

The Consumer Panel acts as an advisor to Ofcom's regulators. It has no powers of its own, but acts as a "consumer conscience" for the watchdog, which can opt to follow its advice or ignore it.

Consumer confidence in internet providers has taken a battering as margins and therefore customer service have been squeezed. The ISP trade association ISPA will be discussing dissatisfaction with fair usage policies and bandwidth at its conference at the end of this month.

Despite its toothlessness, the Ofcom Consumer Panel has asked the ISPs to consider some specific changes they could make to improve the reputation of the industry. Bowe has suggested the bigwigs agree to advise prospective customers their likely speed on their individual line. They should also extend the cooling-off period, and change contracts so people can switch ISP if the quality of their connection is too poor, she wrote.

Ofcom proper is currently consulting on how best to fund a modern internet infrastructure for the UK. Replacing the dodgy copper and aluminium last mile - which encourages ISPs to use weasel words in their marketing - with fibre-optics will cost billions.

New cabling would make it easier to guarantee speeds by removing the distance and poor quality wiring factors, but may not solve the contention issue, as many Virgin Media customers can attest today. Few in future would notice the difference between 100Mbit/s and 50Mbit/s, however. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.